You’ve just started a company, and you’re working tirelessly to establish how to organize business operations. Or perhaps your company is established, but things are operating inefficiently or ineffectively.
With so much to be done, it can be hard to find a path forward.
Here’s some encouragement – your core responsibility is likely hiding in plain sight, and this post is going to show you how to turn it into a lens that helps you establish order in every corner of your company.
The key to organizing business operations is none other than your customer.
Your ideal customer profile can and should inspire more than just your sales and marketing strategy.
As you build out operations in all areas of your company, keeping your ideal customer in view will help both your business and your employees succeed.
Know your ideal customer
Depending on how long you’ve been in business, you may still be formally defining the ideal customer for your product or service.
In the beginning, it makes a lot of sense financially to look at your list of current customers and decide which customer relationships you’d like to replicate with new clients.
Your first customers are essentially buying you (in addition to your product or service). The trust you build through face-to-face interactions or lots of direct communication is a big part of what makes you their preferred provider.
To define your ideal customer, ask:
- Who am I building the most trust and best relationships with?
- What is unique about them? What do they care about?
- What was their initial interest in what I offer?
- Where are they located? What industries are in they in?
- How did they find us initially?
- Where would others like them congregate?
- What influences their decision to buy?
Beyond knowing your ideal customers’ needs, location and purchasing patterns, you want to know what’s going on in their lives. It’s wise to understand their buying strategy and what events preceded their purchase.
Again, this depth of insight with your customers develops most naturally when you’ve built a trusted relationship based on regular dialogue.
Next, with your best customer relationships in mind, you can confidently decide your company’s purpose, goals and desired workplace culture. From that, you can extrapolate an ideal way to organize business operations
Clarify your mission, vision and values
When you clearly articulate your mission, vision and values in writing, you create an opportunity for your employees to connect with your mission and correctly carry its message to your customers.
Starting the process with your ideal customers brings a crucial sense of order to your operational tasks that prioritizes what matters most to the health of your business.
The terms mission, vision and values are often grouped together, so it’s helpful to understand how each one is different. Here’s how these terms are defined and how they uniquely relate to your customers:
- Mission – formally declares your company’s purpose in the broadest terms. It tells your customers why you do what you do.
- Vision – explains your long-term plan. It communicates where you want to take your business and how you see your customers going along with you.
- Values – express what you stand for as a company and your desired culture. They guide your employees’ behavior as they carry out your vision, impacting how your customers feel when they interact with your business.
When your mission, vision and values are well defined, you’re set up to convey a consistent corporate identity as you grow. This strengthens your brand and workplace culture alike as well as the link between the two.
When your ideal customers inspire your mission and vision, and your values inspire your employees, there’s a direct connection between what your customers need and how your employees meet those needs.
Create a customer-first culture
When a business is small, and perhaps just a handful of people are running it, the ideal customers are naturally in full view.
But as a business grows and adds more people to the organization, this firsthand knowledge of the ideal customer profile is harder to extend.
In your own company, ask yourself, “Does everyone interact with my best customers?”
You may actually have employees who predominantly hear from your worst customers (e.g., those who return your product or cancel your service). You may also have people who work only behind-the-scenes, supporting those on the front lines.
How can you ensure that what these employees do still ultimately prioritizes the customers who are propelling you forward and validating what you have to offer?
Here are some specific examples.
When you build your organizational structure:
- Create roles that deliver on your customer promise. Be sure that employees know and understand the customer promise.
- Be mindful of how your internal hierarchy can impact your customers’ experience with your brand.
- Decide how your staff will own the different pieces of your customer relationship strategy.
When you develop new product and service offerings:
- Know your customers so well that you can anticipate what they need in the future.
- Listen for your customers’ additional needs and look for new ways to meet them.
- Run pilot programs and conduct beta testing with your top customers to get important feedback and demonstrate how much you value their opinions.
When coaching your employees:
- Establish a code of ethics that reflects your values and provides detailed descriptions of the type of conduct you expect.
- Train all your employees to ask for and share customer feedback so you know if you’re on the right track and when you might need to follow up on a concern.
- Offer training and development opportunities that inspire your employees to provide better customer service.
Whether sales or service is the goal of an interaction between your employees and customers, you want your ideal customer to feel seen and valued.
Taking on the perspective of your customers as you organize business operations will ensure that this customer-first regard is instilled into your systems and workplace culture. As you grow, your ideal customer won’t be forgotten.
If you’d like more insight into the overlapping relationship between your company’s customers, operations and employees, download our complimentary e-book: How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.